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It's a big mistake to make your first bike a new bike. The reason is exactly what you say: You don't know what you want yet. First off, with any vehicle you take a big hit on the way out the door. You buy a new KLR650 for five grand today, it's worth four when you leave your house tomorrow, three the first time you drop it. Why take that hit when there's a real good chance that a year from now you will want something else? Second, your chances of dropping or crashing are greatest when you are a new rider. Why crash a cherry bike? The solution is simple. There are wads and gobs of used bikes of every description out there for cheap. Especially in these tough times, when desperate people are unloading their toys to try to survive. I say buy used, don't worry, learn, then settle on what you really want down the road. Used Jap bikes are the best value in transportation. You can ride one for two years and sell it for what you paid. And you don't have to worry whether it's right for you, because if it's not, you go try another one. Look in craigslist or look here.

It's also a mistake to believe in MSF courses. I know this is going to sound nuts, because it is nuts. So what? There are plenty of facts in this world which are nuts. These MSF courses fall into the nuts category. Tons of studies have been done on the effectiveness of these courses all over the country and all over the world. They all agree that these courses do no good at all. The studies with the biggest sample and the best methodology all agree that these courses actually increase your risk of a wreck. Bear in mind that these studies are all done by DMV bureaucracies which have a vested interest in promoting the courses. In fact, in typical gummint fashion, their solution to it doesn't work is to recommend spending more on the same thing.

Now, don't shoot the messenger. I didn't invent the facts, and I don't say the facts make sense. I just read a comment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to this effect some years ago, went to the IIHS site, and started following links, and sure enough, there is the relaity. Go there and read for yourself. Or look here: http://motorcycleclub.org/ where I have posted a summary some professors made of whole bunches of these studies at http://www.motorcycleclub.org/safety/mayhew_simpson.htm

So take all that you learned by weaving through cones in a parking lot with a big grain of salt. Keep your eyes open. There's plenty of proven imbeciles in two ton machinery out to kill you. Some you can recognize by the cell phone at their ear. Others have a hands free phone.
 

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Transition

It's a big mistake to make your first bike a new bike. The reason is exactly what you say: You don't know what you want yet. First off, with any vehicle you take a big hit on the way out the door. You buy a new KLR650 for five grand today, it's worth four when you leave your house tomorrow, three the first time you drop it. Why take that hit when there's a real good chance that a year from now you will want something else? Second, your chances of dropping or crashing are greatest when you are a new rider. Why crash a cherry bike? The solution is simple. There are wads and gobs of used bikes of every description out there for cheap. Especially in these tough times, when desperate people are unloading their toys to try to survive. I say buy used, don't worry, learn, then settle on what you really want down the road. Used Jap bikes are the best value in transportation. You can ride one for two years and sell it for what you paid. And you don't have to worry whether it's right for you, because if it's not, you go try another one. Look in craigslist or look here.

It's also a mistake to believe in MSF courses. I know this is going to sound nuts, because it is nuts. So what? There are plenty of facts in this world which are nuts. These MSF courses fall into the nuts category. Tons of studies have been done on the effectiveness of these courses all over the country and all over the world. They all agree that these courses do no good at all. The studies with the biggest sample and the best methodology all agree that these courses actually increase your risk of a wreck. Bear in mind that these studies are all done by DMV bureaucracies which have a vested interest in promoting the courses. In fact, in typical gummint fashion, their solution to it doesn't work is to recommend spending more on the same thing.

Now, don't shoot the messenger. I didn't invent the facts, and I don't say the facts make sense. I just read a comment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to this effect some years ago, went to the IIHS site, and started following links, and sure enough, there is the relaity. Go there and read for yourself. Or look here: http://motorcycleclub.org/ where I have posted a summary some professors made of whole bunches of these studies at http://www.motorcycleclub.org/safety/mayhew_simpson.htm

So take all that you learned by weaving through cones in a parking lot with a big grain of salt. Keep your eyes open. There's plenty of proven imbeciles in two ton machinery out to kill you. Some you can recognize by the cell phone at their ear. Others have a hands free phone.
Hmmmm. Gonna have to disagree with some of this. Used bike can be a good call if you know how to find a good one or know someone who does. So, partial agreement on that point. I also agree that the MSF is lauded as some ethereal council of wise riders who provide a safety net against the world. Obviously BS. But to say they do NO good. If you have never ridden a bike, they can teach you how. Can they teach you to stay alive? No. Can they teach you how to operate a clutch, use the friction zone, explain countersteering, and let you get a chance to learn on a bike you don't have to worry about dropping? Hell yeah. To paraphrase vatrader, I ain't drunk the MSF's kool aid. I think they have some screwed up ideas and policies. I also think it is dangerous that they kind of imply *wink wink* 'now you're ready to ride a MC'. But absolutes are dangerous, too. They do some good. Statistics are what they are. They aren't always right or able to see the forest for the trees like we can.

And personally, I don't care for the term Jap bikes. I know it is commonly used. I know you didn't mean it to be offensive, but it is a holdover from when Japan produced different kind of bikes than they do now. And a holdover from a different time. My Paupa used to call Japanese people Japs and it bothered me, but he fought a war against them. I can kind of understand that. Lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

All that said, I think trying to find a good used bike might be a good idea if money is an issue. And give the MSF a little credit. People listen to what we say on here (god help us) and to say that they will do nothing to help is a little irresponsible IMHO. Not trying to start a fight, just hoping you'll reflect on your post a little.
 

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Thanks for posting that up. "How do you telephone survey those riders who had an accident and died from it?" I'm quoting that, just so you know I read your stuff.

This is a sober subject and I recently posted that I would wish for some training that would help riders, especially young ones, ride better (more effectively, safer, pick the right word).

LJ and I are in the same camp, I think, with respect to MSF and PLP (parking lot practice). We've been to the same forum where it's value is espoused and come away trying to scrape the taste of bad fish eggs off our tongues...

I never took the first MSF course, though I did take the Experienced Rider Course. I've always been on the fence on the value of PLP. I think I got something out of it, but don't believe I came away a really better rider for it.

It is counter-intuitive that training - the right training - is bad.

A rhetorical question, but worthy of discussion: What should we do for new riders?

Tom

I played Moderator and built this into it a new thread - it's really worthy.
 

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In my mind it's simple... "Get 'em out of the parking lot and onto the road during the MSF training." But agian, I've been riding for 37 years.

I've attended (military mandatory) the inital MSF course and two Experienced Rider courses. I won't say they don't do any good, because they do. But they could be a lot better. Like I said to my first instructor "I don't need to know how to keep my bike from falling over at 3 miles an hour in a parking lot because I don't care about that. I'd like for you to show me how to stay alive at 70 mph on the street."

Hasn't happened yet. Closest I came was attending California Superbike School at Willow Springs. Learned more there than anywhere.
 

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edit: not implying this should end the discussion. just a well capsulized version of how i see it. sorry no caps - eating a sandwich and typing one handed. :)
 

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I think back on what worked for me.

As a young, new rider, I crashed. That hurt and made me think I didn't want to do it again. As a slightly more experienced rider, I crashed again. With my wife on the back. That scared me. Her, too. Fortunately, we were in a parking lot and hit an oil slick at about 10mph. Nothing hurt but our pride. It taught me to always be on the lookout and never take anything for granted.

Pictures of a woman passenger with road rash from head to toe. Picture of a young sport bike rider, dead, with his head stuck in the back of a semi-trailer.

Having to make a sudden stop, and having the rear end lock up and go sideways.

Quiet back roads in SLO county in the '70s and a chance to learn how to ride twisties.

A tank slapper at 100 on a CB350 on 101 near Morro Bay.

40 years of bicycling, where you really are invisible.

What are some of the things that made you the rider you are today?

Tom
 

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I think back on what worked for me.

As a young, new rider, I crashed. That hurt and made me think I didn't want to do it again. As a slightly more experienced rider, I crashed again. With my wife on the back. That scared me. Her, too. Fortunately, we were in a parking lot and hit an oil slick at about 10mph. Nothing hurt but our pride. It taught me to always be on the lookout and never take anything for granted.

Pictures of a woman passenger with road rash from head to toe. Picture of a young sport bike rider, dead, with his head stuck in the back of a semi-trailer.

Having to make a sudden stop, and having the rear end lock up and go sideways.

Quiet back roads in SLO county in the '70s and a chance to learn how to ride twisties.

A tank slapper at 100 on a CB350 on 101 near Morro Bay.

40 years of bicycling, where you really are invisible.

What are some of the things that made you the rider you are today?

Tom
I've been lucky that I've never really eaten it hard. But let's see.

1) I've seen tons of shit fly off the back of trucks. Keep my distance.
2) When I was a kid, my Dad brought over a female friend of his...pretty lady...I will never forget the road rash either.
3) I don't do it much anymore, but I used to watch crash videos on Youtube a lot. Kept me honest.
4) I was in a pretty awful car accident when I was 16. I walked away. On a bike, I would have been dead. No doubt.
5) I read and research obsessively about anything I am interested in...fishing...bikes...I owe a huge debt to Mr. Hough as do a lot of us.
6) I've seen some pretty bad bike accidents.
7) I ride/have ridden a lot on the streets of SF. It has made me an aggressive, but extremely aware rider.
8) I had an asshole throw a beer bottle and hit me in the face while I was on my bike. Always wore full face...always will.
9) Though nothing bad happened...that also taught me that as much as I want to teach all the idiots a lesson, they will not learn and I might get hurt.
10) Bicycling, for sure! Saved my bacon MANY times.
11) I have locked up the brakes a few times and I didn't high side because I knew what to do. I truly do visualize scenarios. And I practice fast stops, swerves etc on my bike.
12) I've almost been taken out from behind a few times, so I look at my mirrors a lot.
13) As a good friend of mine always says, I ride MY ride. Unless I'm with my boys and they want to ride slower and then I ride their ride.
14) I prove I'm proficient in ways that are far more fun than hauling ass (balance, control, fluidity).
15) I have never been afraid to ask for help or egotistical enough to think I can't learn by watching people who do things better than I do.
16) I keep one of Francine's scrunchies around my throttle. When I do get stupid, I look at it and think how ****ing unfair it would be to leave her without a Dad because I got hotheaded, pushed it too far, etc.

I gotta go take a little ride, probably throw some more up later, but 16 is my lucky number. For now, we'll stick with this. Oh, and every once in a while I hurt myself bad enough (off the bike) to think how horrible years of recovery could be.

And I ride with the best damn group of bikers I know.
 

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All 16 are good points.

I too crashed as a young lad. Actually it was the very first time I ever rode a motorcycle. It was a Honda CB 450. Rode from one end of a parking lot to the other and did a right hand turn to go back. I did not pull in the clutch while turning (knew nothing about it) and when the handle bar went to the right, my wrist pinned the throttle. Bike stood up and slammed right into the back of a brand new Camaro (1973). The bike suffered bent forks, bent up fender, and broken lights. The car lost a little dust from the bumper. I busted up my right knee pretty good... on the rear spoiler... on my way over the car.

It hurt, but I was hooked, and I had a deep respect for motorcycles after that. I think it was a blessing that I did it on the very first ride.
 

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All 16 are good points.

I too crashed as a young lad. Actually it was the very first time I ever rode a motorcycle. It was a Honda CB 450. Rode from one end of a parking lot to the other and did a right hand turn to go back. I did not pull in the clutch while turning (knew nothing about it) and when the handle bar went to the right, my wrist pinned the throttle. Bike stood up and slammed right into the back of a brand new Camaro (1973). The bike suffered bent forks, bent up fender, and broken lights. The car lost a little dust from the bumper. I busted up my right knee pretty good... on the rear spoiler... on my way over the car.

It hurt, but I was hooked, and I had a deep respect for motorcycles after that. I think it was a blessing that I did it on the very first ride.
As the owner of a 73 cb450...ouch. I was out checking out christmas lights with the girls tonight and I remembered another good one. The worst wreck I've had on a bike (scooter) was when I hit some muni tracks in the rain. Broke the lever...hurt my pride and ruined a good pair of pants. Got off easy. Lesson learned...paint and metal are slicker than snot in the rain. Have not made the same mistake since.
 

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I was lucky enough to learn the fundamentals of motorcycle riding in hayfields and on the streets of a town of 300.. That was at 15 years old (and younger)..

Now at 45, my sub-warp speed (70 and below) riding is very agressive and I almost never ride at warp speed unless on the Interstate, and then it's just 10-15 over posted..

I've never taken the beginner course, but I've taken the ERC 4 times and have been requested to be an instructor the last 2 times. I don't have enough time to ride, let alone instruct.

I guess I have more fun instructing by having newer or less aggressive riders follow me through tight stuff at speed, so they can see what lines work and that they can trust their motorcycles to lean more than they thought.

Unfortunately, the last time I took the ERC, the only thing I learned was that I wasn't learning anything new.
 

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I have to agree that changes could be made to make the MSF BRC better, however to say that it has no real world value is wrong. Having worked as a MSF rider coach in Texas for the last five years has allowed me to see that the program does have merit. Like most riders my age I learned by trial and error, there was no MSF back then. While PLP can be boring for experienced riders, it is also surprising the number of experienced riders who have problems staying within the boundries during the cornering exercises, or who can't make a u-turn in a limited space. Not to mention those who can't perform a quick stop from under 20 mph without locking up the brakes. Isn't it better to practice these skills in a controlled space than out on the street.
In the classroom we stress defensive riding, teaching that they are responsible for their own safety. I feel that on road training would be a asset to the ERC, but taking a new rider with zero experience ( which is what the BRC is designed for) and telling them to follow me through traffic makes little sense to me.
 

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As a new rider, I found the BRC course extremely helpful. I'd never been on a motorcycle before that course, had no concept of how to even start one. Without the course, I may have never bought a motorcycle due to the giant leap into the unknown. No, the course didn't teach me about how invisible we are, though that's something you learn pretty quick. But it did teach me the basics of how to operate the motorcycle, and armed me with the knowledge to go out and work my way up to a safe riding level. The course is not designed to make anyone a good rider, that takes years and tens of thousands of miles.
 

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WA has a pretty tough MSF Course. I took the DMV test instead of the class. Have had my endorsement since I was a kid but WA wouldn't except my TX endorsement. My GF is a MSF Instructor so I've seen what they have people do. They watch you for 2 days and see your skills improve. If you take the DMV test you only need one good run.
 

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First, I understand some of the discontent about MSF. I took the Advanced-and even though I have been riding a very long time-it helped. I went on to take the "Stayin Safe" course that Larry G. developed-now Eric Trowe--I did the course "2 up" because I wanted to ride well enough to protect my dear wife.-It was well worth it. Lastly ATGATT. Oh and practice skills-and remember, it take zero skill to ride fast.
 

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I am signed up to take an MSF that is privately run by motorcycle police at a significant price bump from the classes offered by the colleges here. I hope that isn't a waste, but I tend to think you get what you pay for. I am stuck with their 250's though. I wonder about that. I am planning on taking the advanced classes with the klr, they suggest putting 1000 miles in between courses. That's like a month with the trips I'm planning :) Slow riding is going to be my focus in self training. It's where you start and end..
 

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Wynter,
It also depends on how much riding experience you have.
They recommend 1000 miles if you're a newby when you take the BRC, before taking the ERC..
I've never taken the BRC. I had been riding for 15 years before taking the ERC, since it was a new course at the time. Put it this way, the bikes on the movies were current when I took the course. :)

Anyway, if you've got a fair amount of riding experience under your belt, the suggestions as far as when to take what can be thrown out the window. Unless you want to take both, that is..
 

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Paper,
I'm as new as they get :)
I wonder about some of these spring rides that are being planned. Should I ride solo for awhile while I figure this all out, or would these be good opportunities to learn; would I just be annoying, or worse yet, learn bad habits? My inclination is to be a solitary man.
 

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If you're a true newbie, take both courses..

I'm over a quarter million miles into this game, and I love riding alone.. Riding with 1 or 2 other friends is a good time, and I hate riding in groups..

Practice is good for your skill and your head. What more could you ask for?:)
 

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Been riding since I was 6 years old... started on a honda 50 and just last year took the course becasue the wife wanted to learn... I LOVED IT and you can teach an old dog new tricks.
 
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